Things I Wish My Professors Prepared Me For

Professors Prepared

It has been exactly a year and five months since I graduated Florida International University (F.I.U.). Still, it feels like I was packing lunches to study in the library last week…

F.I.U. was the best experience of my life. I am forever grateful for the professional knowledge my communications professors provided. The issue with college is that one semester really is not long enough to cram years of experience into. Needless to say, there’s a lot of information that falls through the cracks. Professors are coerced into being more focused on passing rates than actually guiding students’ transition into the professional arena.

College students often consider getting a job to be the biggest issue they are going to face after graduation. What is not being taught, is that the real difficulty comes with maintaining your position within that job. It’s one thing to accept a job offer and another thing to actually work and continuously meet all expectations covered within the position.

“Welcome to reality; here’s your desk, here’s your new email address, here’s some random documents on our server, here’s your first 5 assignments, figure it out, good luck!” – Part-time receptionist at the front desk.

This is NOT a joke.

The dirty truth is, the lion din is a place where you either make it or you don’t.

Thankfully, you don’t really die after your first job (although sometimes it feels like it). Instead, you get another job and prep yourself with the knowledge of past failures and prepare for the lions once more. And you do this again and again, until you – somehow – survive. Even then, survival is an everyday battle.

A little dramatic? You don’t know the half of it.

The first skill I wish my professors prepared me to develop before I graduate is ATTENTION TO DETAIL. For some this comes naturally, for others it’s a learned talent. This is especially important for those in communications. Every letter, every design, every email, every project needs consistency and correctness. Don’t trust spellcheck or even your own eyes. Print every document before it is sent and check it twice more after you think it’s good to go. FYI Adobe programs don’t have spellcheck– learned it the hard way once. To help me develop this skill later on, I started solving word searches and reading articles much more often.

Secondly, I wish more professors taught me how to work under time restraints and pressure. After I graduated college I was so used to due dates that extended past several days or even weeks. When I first was handed an assignment at work due immediately, I completely panicked. Panic is everyone’s kryptonite in an office setting. It usually brings huge mistakes and irresponsible overlooks with it. I have never made as many mistakes as I have in an agency where all I did all day was put out fires and work with minute-long deadlines. Therefore, I believe quick exercises that require students to develop a project or train of thought within a short time would be a great addition to the classroom.

Developing a creative, make-it-up-as-you-go attitude can really do wonders within the communications field. In college, we have little room to develop critical thinking skills since we are have been taught what/how to think starting as early as elementary school. In a workplace, your boss will never hand you a nicely outlined prompt for you to highlight and circle. Here there are no guidelines. Here there are no rubrics of how to successfully approach a project. There is only a client/supervisor with an idea you must breathe life into correctly, the first time you approach it.

I hope this post will help others out there, rather it be a student or a professor, to see where they can strengthen themselves to prepare for a smooth transition into the professional world of communications.

Good luck out there,

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5 Healthy Snacks to Eat at Your Desk

If you have a job anything like mine, you’re probably sitting in a chair for 10+ hours every day with few chances to walk to a co-worker’s desk for a brief moment. Boredom strikes from every angle, cunningly disguised as hunger. Wait, sidebar– who brought donuts for breakfast?

Before you know it you’ve eaten your daily carb, sugar and calorie intake for the day in less than 10 minutes.

AM I JUST BORED- GRINCH

 

I didn’t always have a desk job (even the name for it sounds dreadful). Actually, I’ve NEVER had a job where all I do is sit on my behind until my current one. I used to run around malls, hotels and restaurants in six-inch heels for hours. Once I even ran up a couple flights in heels with a broken foot! There wasn’t even time for snacks, much less full meals. So, needless to say, the transition has been hard on my ever-growing love handles. It’s been tough to try to lose the pounds I’ve packed on, so I researched some healthy alternatives that satisfy the hunger demons without compromising my waist size.

1. Air-popped Popcorn

I placed this snack first on my list because it’s my saving grace. Depending on how much sugar, oil or salt you season it with, the calories can add up. It’s best to go without any add-ons. Popcorn is actually really good on it’s own, but I make an exception for Skinny Pop’s Sharp Cheddar Popcorn Mini Cakes (pictured in featured image)! At a mere 60 calories per 10 ‘cakes’, they are a snack STEAL. It’s low-calorie, gluten-free, non-GMO, whole-grain and rich with antioxidants!

2. Fruit and Greek Vanilla Yogurt with Chia and Flax Seeds

A great distraction for your gurgling stomach before lunch is fruit with Greek vanilla yogurt. It’s sweet and satisfying. Why Greek yogurt you ask? It’s so much better for you all around. It has twice the amount of protein than your standard yogurt. I usually add an assortment of mixed berries including blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries. Then I sprinkle  3 pinches of chia seeds and a single pinch of flax seeds for extra benefits.

If you’ve never used Chia seeds before, you are in for a treat. Chia seeds are full of nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids and have been proven to help people feel full for longer with their high fiber content. You add them to cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, water or even coconut milk. If you add them to your meal and leave them for a little while, they will swell. Don’t freak out, they taste best like this. I sometimes even purposely wait for them to swell before I eat. Another healthy snack idea while I’m chia ranting: add 2 tablespoons to a cup of coconut milk, put it in the fridge and wait for them to swell. Add fruit and some honey if you’d like. It’s like a gourmet dessert pudding– but better for you!

Same goes for flax seeds. This versatile topping has a very healthy reputation. According to WebMD, some even call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. Recent studies have proven that flaxseed can protect against heart attacks, Parkinson’s disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer.

3. Toasted Whole Wheat English Muffin with Smart Balance Peanut Butter 

Whole wheat English muffins will save your dollar and your diet. You can dress them up in a variety of different ways, so you’ll never get bored of them like the usual diet food. They are high-fiber and low-fat with a dash of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and selenium. All great ingredients that make up the perfect weight loss breakfast food.

Beware, the more you add to the toast, the more calories you take in. To help me feel fuller, longer I add Smart Balance’s Crunchy Peanut Butter. This option is healthier Image result for smart balance crunchy peanut butterfor you than the standard low-sugar peanut butter for a few reasons. First, they add flax oil to their product meaning you get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Second, eaten in moderation, it provides you with less saturated fat and sugar. Third, if you add whole grain to this peanut butter choice the combination gives you access protein. Lastly, Smart Balance Peanut Butter promotes the health of skin and nerves with 20 percent of your daily value of vitamin B3 per serving. It also contains vitamin E, thiamin, potassium and iron.

4. Hard Boiled Egg

This one’s not as cool or exciting but it most definitely keeps your hunger at bay. Hard-boiled eggs good, heart-healthy fats called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This healthy snack is a great source of protein which helps you build muscle and repair tissue. It also provides you with vitamin A which promotes eye health, and vitamin D which promotes strong bones through calcium.  I workout after work four to five days a week so I need my protein. If you don’t work out much or you’re having a slow week cut the egg in half and throw out its yolk center. Also, refrain from adding salt– please and thank you.

Image result for Hard boiled egg

Pro Tip: Avoid stinking up your entire house for hours by making a quick run to your local grocery store and grabbing sodium free, pre-boiled eggs.

5. Hi I’m Skinny, Superfood Sticks ‘Mean & Green’

I am totally a chip person. I love CHIPS. Hi I’m Skinny Sticks have helped me replace my unhealthy finger-food habit. They have a variety of flavors, but the overall best I have found is their ‘Mean & Green’ Superfood sticks. Although it’s certainly not the best tasting option they sell, it’s their most nutritional option. It’s packed with vitamin C, calcium, fiber, protein and iron. My favorite part is that they have familiar ingredients that I’m not afraid to put in my body, so there’s no guessing. Their very first ingredient is green veggies including kale, peas and spinach! The best part is, they are only 130 calories per 35 sticks.

Image result for Skinny sticks mean and green

Happy eating,

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What healthy snack did I miss? Which is your favorite? Tell me in the comments section below!

How to Attract Sponsors Online (Step-By-Step)

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
― Aristotle

Building your site’s domain authority (DA) can take months, even years. Once you gradually start to grow your site’s street cred. on the web, you’ll see followers subscribing and soon enough the sponsorship/partnership emails will come pouring in. Remember to take baby steps and whatever you do don’t get ahead of yourself. Try not to accept the smaller stuff and hold off for the larger partnerships, it will make your site a lot more valuable to companies if you don’t work with just anyone.

As a partnership coordinator, I usually won’t email those with sites or blogs which link to more than 45 pages (also called outbound links). In other words, try not to have tons of links everywhere. Keep it simple. Many bloggers shoot themselves in the foot by adding buddies lists, archive lists or tons of clickable sidebar buttons to their sidebars. Seriously, you’ll be surprised how fast outbound links will add up. Be patient and hold off false excitement from less-important sponsorships or partnerships and wait for the real deal. Wait for the business-changing emails that come around every once in a blue moon. Being picky with those you work with will make your site that much more valuable and opens much larger opportunities down the road. Great things come out of patience.

Let’s move on to the fun part of DA ranking– getting those “knocks on the door.”

Here’s a list of items you’re going to need to get the ball rolling:
A Computer
Social Media Profiles (ready-to-go)
A Timer
An Excel or Google Docs Spreadsheet
A large coffee

Forums are one of the first places I go for leads when I am looking to sponsor someone. Yeah, you heard right… forums. You know, those ancient beasts once top of the food chain on the web before the dawn of Reddit? I would have never guessed how valuable they would become to me as a partnership coordinator. So if you want to be noticed, these little online rooms are the place to be seen. I also look for blogs which allow guest posts too.

Let’s begin. Open up a new spreadsheet and title it “Forums To Contribute To.” As you go you can add on whatever columns pop in your head, but for now let’s just add the following sections: the forum’s name, URL, URL of posts, your posts’ date and a notes section. When you’re deciding where to post, there are a couple of factors you will want to take into account to help you get the most out of every effort. Look to comment on or post about a topic that has relevance, timeliness and lots of activity. Make sure that whatever you choose to discuss has to do with things your site can be associated with, this also gives you a little more credibility on the forum itself.

To get you started, here are some great places to find forums, posts and topics:
http://www.findaforum.net/
http://boardreader.com/
http://www.thebiggestboards.com/

You can also search Google by hitting the ‘Discussions’ tab on the results page and changing the search settings under ‘Search Tools’ from ‘All Discussions’ to ‘Forums.’

When you post on a forum most likely you will have to sign-up and log in as a new member. When you’re creating an account look for spots to link your website to the user profile. Also, see if there’s a signature option available. A lot of forums have caught on and banned outside links. If this is the case, I would suggest finding yourself a new site to contribute to. Afterall, the whole point is to gain recognition for your site isn’t it? Also, it’s not smart to go onto a forum and overly promote yourself, it’s annoying and you will be quickly removed from the discussion. Sometimes, you’ll even get blocked by the administrator. Really think about a question or comment you want to post. Ask yourself, “Will this contribute to the conversation?” Give honest, helpful answers and reference facts you throw their way. This is why forums are yet another place patience goes a long way.

After you organize your plan of attack and finally post, copy the URL to help you find it again in the future. Paste this under the ‘URL of Posts’ column. Don’t forget to add the date it was posted under ‘Post Date” too. You’ll want to keep tabs on these items every now and then. Plus, it helps you keep track of your progress. Visit this column every so often and respond to reactions or a contribute to a new discussion that may have developed based upon it.

When my well is dry I turn to Facebook and Instagram for new leads. Social media is another great way to get your site noticed by companies. Make yourself a business page on Facebook and double-check the category it’s labeled under to make it easier for those targeting a niche. Type your URL in the bottom-right section titled ‘About’ to guide them there. Your email should also be included in here to help those interested contact you right away. As a sponsor, nothing is worse than wasting several hours hunting down an email address. If it’s a particularly busy day, I won’t bother searching their business name or email. I rather pass on to the next person to be honest. I can’t stress enough how readily available your contact info and URL needs to be.

Same thing goes for Instagram, your email and URL should be in your bio. Across the board, I look mainly at the follower count on social. If the person I’m looking into doesn’t have a lot of followers and there’s not much engagement there, I will automatically assume their website reflects this. So remember to build your following, post regularly and engage your audience before you turn to these places for exposure.

Once your social platforms are up-to-speed and ready to go, join or ask to be invited to several private and public Facebook groups which associate with your site’s niche. These little groups are awesome online communities where people not only develop friendships but also find life-long fans. I’ve even seen partners of mine pass on exclusive sponsorship opportunities to others in their group.

You should get used to setting time aside every day to publicize your site on the internet. Get your handy-dandy timer out and set it to an hour and a half for the first couple of weeks and then to 45 minutes after you get the hang of it. Don’t stop until you hear the ring! It’s harder than ever to set out and achieve a task on modern technology, especially with the constant *pings* of notifications begging to distract you. This is where the large cup of coffee I suggested comes into play 😉

IT’S OKAY TO GO FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Need a product for your next project? Have a certain company in mind you’d do anything to associate your brand with? It’s forevernot too brazen to email them and ask for what you’re looking for. In fact, it makes the lives of marketing managers sooo much easier! We will love you for-ev-er.  If you’re confident in the exposure you can offer them, ask to speak with their marketing manager.

When you approach a marketing manager give them all the information you will think they’ll need to research how valuable you can be to them without sounding overzealous or arrogant. Enter the conversation with a can-do mentality and be confident in your worth!

Have you ever thought of a dream company you’d like to associate your website with? What would you ask them for?

Good luck, 

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Build Web Street Cred. with Domain & Page Authority.

There are tons of theories out there about how to increase Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA). After working with these two on a daily basis for almost a year, I’ve learned it’s all about backlinks and content. There’s no need to complicate it.

Similar to when a former boss recommends you for a position, websites can recommend your site to Google by linking to you somewhere on their site. The more websites that recommend you, the more credible your website becomes. Although Google is the only one who knows your site’s true value, third parties like Moz use a ranking system to estimate its strength.  A site’s ranking is mostly determined by a number of websites that link to you.  Based on your score,  the site can go up or down in rank.  As long as you keep your number of external links (also called backlinks) high your DA is sure to rise.

The best type of external link includes anchor text rather than a clickable image. It helps even more when those keywords relate to your site. I call this doubling up on a website recommendation. Moz reads these hyperlinked words like a new career opportunity reads an endorsement of a specific skill. And of course, keywords (or skills) also affect SEO in a positive way! Case in point, take full advantage every time a site mentions you.

There are a lot of ways to receive these recommendations, the way that gives you the most ‘brownie points’ with Google are through articles by credible sources. My dream external links have a lot of rich text with words I associate my client with. Another way is by becoming an affiliate partner or sponsor of a page. HINT AHEAD! This is how you get companies and businesses to offer you awesome sponsorship opportunities.

As a marketing partnership coordinator, whose main objective is to collaborate with those who have large followings, a HUGE thing I take into consideration is the domain authority of a person’s website. In my book, good DA ranking is anything more than 45, but companies looking for quick partnerships will go even as low as 30. If you meet these numbers companies seeking out your site for recommendations will offer you tons of cool products, fun projects and top-notch sponsorships. People could literally quit their day jobs for the type of opportunities that can come from this.

Is your DA not quite where you want it? Start adding some new, quality content to your site. Make sure they are original ideas. The more unique your content is, the better. Google eats up original content. They prefer to guide users to sites with original thoughts as a way to build credibility on the world wide web. Also, contact pages similar to yours and ask for a shout-out. You could also accomplish this via forums and blogs with guest posts.

PA is the less successful sibling of DA. It’s great to use for determining ad placements… and that’s about it. You can use it to charge an advertiser more for an appearance on a page with a higher ranking. You could also use it to keep tabs on your sites and see which of your pages is most successful.

Sometimes determining the DA of a subdomain gets tricky. In this case, it’s best to use the PA of your site’s homepage to determine its credibility. Subdomains are any site with URLs like example.wordpress.com or Eample2.Tumblr.com. FYI having your own domain and building authority on it gives you way more credibility with Google and makes more sense than a subdomain.

Stay tuned for my next post on how to get sponsors to find you once you have a good DA rank. I’ll be pointing out some forum search engines and giving some tips on approaching companies. Get email updates on my posts, scroll down to my footer and hit follow!

Happy Friday,

Chelsea Suzanne